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Settling In: The Researcher's Guide to Your University

2.1 Planning your meeting with your supervisor

Topics 1 to 5 will provide you with a number of prompts about the ways in which you can move smoothly into your new community. At this point, you are encouraged to think about who and what you need to know to readily manage your research role. The following prompts are drawn from the different topics covered in this module. The Induction Interview Checklist you downloaded in Topic 1 provides you with an online tool where you can jot down any thoughts or questions as you work through this topic. At the conclusion of the topic you will be able to use it as the basis for a meeting with your supervisor. This meeting will be aimed at gleaning the information you still need as well as clarifying the performance expectations that you will be working toward.

The Higher Education Context

The following overview summarises some of the areas we have covered, and highlights the particular aspects which might be worthy of discussion during this meeting.

Topic 1: The national research context  

It is suggested you should build a good understanding of the following standards and processes.

  • How research works in your university
  • The standards of performance required of researchers
  • The university's strategic priorities.

Do you feel confident in knowing how these areas operate? If not, go to the Induction Interview Checklist and identify the questions you would like to explore.

Topic 2: Settling into your local research community

This is more broad in its focus, encouraging you to think about how research is managed in your university. Do you feel you have a good sense of how project management operates? Some of the prompts raised in this topic include the following:

  • Do you understand how the research grants process works in your university?
  • Do you have the necessary skills to manage the financial side of a research grant?
  • Are you sufficiently versed in how researchers manage staff and research students in this university?
  • Does your local area have particular stakeholders with whom it works closely? Is this important for your work?
  • Do you have a good understanding of your likely role in any research project with which you will be associated?
Topic 3: Your roles as a researcher  

This identifies a range of research capabilities that are important skills for any researcher. Consider if any of the following require further development over the coming years. Go to your Induction Interview Checklist file and note any areas that need to be followed up and be actively developed by you.

  • Self management
    • Time management
    • Career management
    • Media skills
  • Working with others
    • Communication skills
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Relationship management
    • Human resource management skills
    • Research mentorship
    • Collaborative research
  • Research skills and capabilities
    • Analytical skills and critical thinking skills
    • Budgeting and contract management
    • How the university and research processes work
    • Project management
    • Stages of researcher development and your current role and their implications.
Topic 4: Managing your research priorities

This explores some very important elements of work management. This is the time to start thinking carefully about your skills in coordinating your long and short term goals. In particular, you will need to be quite clear as to what is expected of you and how you can meet those expectations while keeping longer term goals in focus. Topic 4 suggests some valuable questions for including in your preliminary discussions with your supervisor. These are listed below to assist your reflection, but are also included in the Induction Interview Checklist, where you can also make further notes.

  • Clarification of your university's and research centre's research priorities and directions
  • Discussion of the required performance outcomes you will be expected to demonstrate
  • Agreement on new aspirational research goals to be achieved in the coming year
  • Review of support and resources available to assist with your research (including start-up grants)
  • Identification of skills or capabilities that require further development, and
  • The cultural expectations and contributions you will be expected to make.
Topic 5: Research mentorship

This affirms the importance of identifying and nurturing effective relationships with mentors (and mentees). At this stage, you need to identify what you need from a mentor and to consider whether assistance in gaining a mentor is desired. If you do wish to have assistance, consider the following questions:

  • What type of mentor do you wish to find?
  • What are your primary concerns at present?
  • Who have you contacted or investigated to date?
  • Would you like an orientation mentor?

Again, include any responses on the checklist.

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